The Waters Run
Monuke Anthology
by Sameshima Shuzumi
494 wc ~ PG ~ N

Some spoilers for the show's end. Happy birthday, Naotoki, my silent one, my serpent of madness.
- November 2003

The wind in this place is hot, and dry.

I remember my mother washing me in the stream, iridescent scales whirling away and sticking to rocks. My hair was like the sea reeds in the water, she said. I do not remember them. The water was cold as daggers; I did not like it. It should have been warmer, I recall thinking. Ever since Doku, no water besides of the Youjakai’s springs have warmed my skin.

We were a small people– pitiful now that I think of it. We crawled on the land and shunned the sky. When my ancestors found the armor of Doku, they buried the venom deep. There I found it when my master Arago called me. By then the land was burning, and my clan was dead. My mother, true to her race, had disappeared long before.

I still remember her songs. They told of eyes in the dark, of undulations of shadow and the pure light of a jewelled brow. We shunned the land, but never the light. Prey was for the evening; but light kept us warm. Under the sun my hair darkened from sickly puce to lush green. It scared the other children, along with my sharp, soulless eyes. I learned to avoid them. Only my lord Arago called me youthful and quick. Like a snake in the grass.

Now Arago-sama is gone and with him, his treachery. The great betrayer, betrayed! How my mother would have scorned me. Had she known that not three moons would pass before I torched the roofs and poisoned the stream in his name, she would have chided me for that blindspot. Weak? We are not weak. Yet I held my head up instead of going to ground. It should have been chopped off.

Gone. Arago-sama, and Shutendouji. Both pretenders. Shuten was no ogre. I was the real demon. Yet in the end he wanted to save me.

I found his body in the water. His hair was like no reed I could ever want to remember.

Anubis has warned me against coming here. Kayura-sama does not forbid it, but she is a shrewd one, and discourages it. Before me is the great molten lake of Arago-sama’s power. Here the ankoku priests gathered their strength. Here our virtues were washed away, torn from our souls.

Lord Arago did not leave this reservoir open to the jaundiced sky. Instead he built his castle around it, buried this wellspring of agony deep in the roots of the stronghold. Warned away by the Masho of Darkness? Darkness is my first home.

I have never revealed my true form to anyone now alive. Doku clings tight to my body, the fangs of the helmet lengthening, the flames leaping from its brow. I will take it along; it serves me now, who walks in the way of obedience.

It has been too long. My skin has not fit me for a long time.

I walk forward. My tongue splits. There is a song on my lips.

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